PDBY spoke to fitness trainer Simphiwe Wanda about his training programme and overcoming challenges in any fitness training. Wanda has obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental Management and his Postgraduate Diploma (Hons) in Food Security.

What fitness training are you providing and how is it currently going?

The kind of fitness training I provide depends on the individual’s preference of training and goals. Currently, I’m working with two different groups, where I provide boot camp type of fitness training which I usually mix with athlete speed and agility training. [With] the second group, I provide strength and conditioning training to them, which involves more weights and static cardio than the boot camp style training.

What struggles have you faced in the past getting to this point and how have you overcome them?

The challenge I faced as a trainer was finding people who are consistent enough for them and myself to see progress, that really was challenging especially mentally, it was hard continuing [because] as a beginner trainer a lot of these experiences are not documented so when they happen to you, they kind create doubt and make you lose interest. The good thing was that fitness resides inside of me, so I overcame that simply by working on myself and consistently showing up. Another challenge I faced while starting out this journey was understanding that not everybody is able to grasp workouts the first time, so patience was one of the key skills I developed over time.

I’ve also had to walk long distances for venues where I can conduct my sessions, and that often-chased people away, up until I was able to use the campus gym. Now I just use my yard and the local sports ground. I’m still facing transport challenges which prevent me from expanding sometimes but again, with persistence a plan will come to fruition.

Other than physical training, in what other ways do you help those who train?

As a trainer or personal trainer, I feel like it’s important to help people reach their physical goals, but what’s more important is shaping the individual’s mind-set and conditioning it to be able to withstand pain, not only for physical gains but the mental strength needed for other aspects of life. Help build confidence and a positive mind-set. So talking to your clients and also being a good listener for them, as the gym for others is therapy and more than just sweat and tears.

What are you hoping to gain from it?

I am hoping to be able to make a living through helping those who want to change their lives through fitness, as I did mine. But when I started […] to train people, to gain anything was not in the plans and if we didn’t need money to survive, we would be doing this for free.

When it’s all said and done, nothing beats the joy of being that spark that keeps people dreaming and believing in themselves, and providing these services puts us as personal trainers in that position.

Which workouts do you use the most and for who? Why?

Well for beginners the first 8 weeks I usually put them on a full body workout just to get them active while also tracking their abilities and what they are capable of and level of fitness. I’m a huge believer of compound movements, such as mountain climbers which I provide a beginner version for those who are finding them hard, and those who are capable do the normal version (this applies for my bootcamp sessions). Star jumps, high knees, foot stomps, cross jumps, butt-kicks, and skipping rope I like to use as warm up. For core: planks and their variations (full plank, elbow plank, planks with reaching arm, alternating planks) including bear planks and their variations. For abs, I like to keep it simple. I use the classic foot to foot crunch, crunches with hands across the chest, crunches with hands reaching up, flutter kicks, knees to chest crunches and also some weighted abs exercises [which] usually do the trick. For legs, I use the standard squats and its variation including weighted, I like to use Bulgarian split squats though, along with back lunges and jumping leg workouts and also incorporate pause reps and pulse reps just to shock the body either at the end or beginning. For arms and back, I use the basic push-ups, inchworms, [and] Spiderman crawls along with bear crawls and some weightlifting exercises. For speed and agility, I like to focus on unilateral exercises and also some maker drills.

Do you train individuals all on the same level or to their own capabilities?

The thing is that when you’re having a boot camp session, people of different fitness levels join, so to accommodate everyone what I do is during my planning [is] have two different versions of the same exercises that I will be instructing. For that particular session for the beginners and those who are capable of doing the advanced version. So in an open session like that of a boot camp, I like to use a time as well, so that those individuals who can do more, do more and I make sure I push everyone, but in pushing them I make sure it’s according to their level of capability.

Did the COVID-19 pandemic hinder your services in any way? Yes of course it did, but it forced me to find a different approach and start doing house calls rather than using my own space.

What is your fitness philosophy?

Fitness is a lifestyle, meaning it’s a way of life. It doesn’t have to be the only philosophy that one lives by, but one can borrow some of its aspect to further strengthen one’s way of life because all is in the mind. Fitness helps one master one’s mind to persevere through difficult times and have the discipline to control one’s self through good times so that one doesn’t lose your discipline, and through bad times so that one doesn’t lose sight of the end goal.

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